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Health and Body Mass Index: No Simple Relationship

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  • Hübler, Olaf

    () (Leibniz University of Hannover)

Abstract

Many studies have shown that obesity is a serious health problem for our society. Empirical analyses often neglect a number of methodological issues and relevant influences on health. This paper investigates empirically whether neglecting these items leads to systematically different estimates. Based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, this study derives the following results. (1) Many combinations of weight and height lead to the same health status. (2) Obese people have a significantly worse state of health. (3) The hypothesis has to be rejected that weight is an exogenous influence on health. (4) High income helps to improve men's health while deviations between desired and actual working hours induce negative effects. (5) The more siblings a woman has and the lower her father's social status, the worse is her health status. (6) Smoking is not good for health, a well-known fact. Especially for underweight individuals we detect the negative influence on health. Women are less affected. (7) A healthy diet strengthens the resilience for individuals who are not obese. (8) Long but not too long sleeping hours and sporting activities during youth contribute to a good health status. (9) Weight fluctuations induce negative effects on the health of women only. (10) Four of the big five components of personality, namely openness, extraversion, conscientiousness and agreeableness, contribute to resilience against health problems for underweight people.

Suggested Citation

  • Hübler, Olaf, 2017. "Health and Body Mass Index: No Simple Relationship," IZA Discussion Papers 10620, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10620
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:taf:jnlbes:v:30:y:2012:i:1:p:67-80 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Jay Bhattacharya & Neeraj Sood, 2011. "Who Pays for Obesity?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 139-158, Winter.
    3. Sabia, Joseph J. & Rees, Daniel I., 2012. "Body weight and wages: Evidence from Add Health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 14-19.
    4. Batty, G. David & Shipley, Martin J. & Gunnell, David & Huxley, Rachel & Kivimaki, Mika & Woodward, Mark & Lee, Crystal Man Ying & Smith, George Davey, 2009. "Height, wealth, and health: An overview with new data from three longitudinal studies," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 137-152, July.
    5. Marx, Brian D. & Eilers, Paul H. C., 1998. "Direct generalized additive modeling with penalized likelihood," Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 193-209, August.
    6. Böckerman, Petri & Maczulskij, Terhi, 2016. "The Education-health Nexus: Fact and fiction," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 112-116.
    7. David B. Dunson & Natesh Pillai & Ju-Hyun Park, 2007. "Bayesian density regression," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series B, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 69(2), pages 163-183.
    8. Dora L. Costa, 2015. "Health and the Economy in the United States from 1750 to the Present," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(3), pages 503-570, September.
    9. Ruppert,David & Wand,M. P. & Carroll,R. J., 2003. "Semiparametric Regression," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521785167.
    10. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2007. "Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence: Theory and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2717, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
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    14. Andrew J. Oswald & Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2007. "Review 1: Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence: Theory and Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(521), pages 441-454, June.
    15. Inyoung Kim & Noah D. Cohen & Raymond J. Carroll, 2003. "Semiparametric Regression Splines in Matched Case-Control Studies," Biometrics, The International Biometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 1158-1169, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    health; body mass index; underweight; obesity; gender; resilience; vulnerability;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions

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